As the weather starts to get warmer and the pools and lakes start to get more crowded, it’s extremely important to talk to your children about water safety; especially if you have a child on the autism spectrum. Water safety is extremely important for all kids to be well trained in and we highly encourage that you teach this to all of your children while they are young and continue to reinforce this as they get older. Many of our PediaPlex families ask us for tips when it comes to helping their autistic child feel comfortable in the pool (as well as getting their parents to feel comfortable with the idea) so we wanted to make you all a list of quick water safety tips!
-Educate: The best way to start covering water safety is to first educate your child on all of the different types of waters they could be in. Let them know the importance of swim lessons, the rules of swimming and also help them get familiar with water. Practice taking your child out to the pool and helping them get acquainted with it before starting swim lessons. This could start with just dipping their toes in or maybe their whole foot; whatever they are comfortable with.
-Emphasize Dangers: Your child needs to realize just how dangerous the water can be; pools, lakes, and oceans. Be sure to let your child know about how different a pool is from a lake or an ocean, and vice versa. A pool might not have a current like those can, but it can be very shallow in some areas and deeper in other areas.
-Spread the Word: It’s a great idea to let your neighbors and friends know if your child has a tendency to wander towards water/pools; the more people who are aware, the better.
– Start Early: Teaching your child how to be comfortable around water at young age is very important. The sooner you start getting them around and in water, the sooner they can learn to love it!
-Swim Gear: Have swim gear ready for your child as needed. Life jackets and other flotation devices are very important to have so your child can learn at their own pace.
-Swim Lessons: Just because your child might be comfortable around the water, doesn’t mean they know how to swim in it. It’s so important to take the time to get your child started with swim lessons! This is another great way to practice water safety. There are lots of swim schools that specialize in working with children on the autism spectrum (we will post those below for you guys!)
-Take Precautions: Many children with autism are drawn to water. It’s extremely important to have your pool at home well secured so your child is unable to wander out to it. Be sure to have door alarms installed as well so you can hear if you child has left the house unattended. As always, never let any of your children be unsupervised by water or when swimming.
-Use Visual Cards: Using visuals can really help children to process information and understand what are asking them to do. This helps the child transition as well from task-to-task.
Take a look at swim schools in the Dallas/Fort Worth area that offer swim classes for children with special needs!
Aqua-Tots Swim School: They have a variety of locations in the DFW area and offer group and private swim lessons for children with special needs.
Emler Swim School: Emler also offers group and private swim lessons for your child with a variety of locations across the DFW area.
Sunsational Swim School: Do you feel like your child might be more comfortable in your home pool or local community pool? Sunsational swim school will come to you! Visit their website to find out if they have instructors near you!
YMCA: Many YMCA’s in the DFW offer swim lessons for children with special needs. Call your local YMCA to get more information and find the closest classes available to you.
We hope that you have found these resources useful. Please always practice water safety but remember to have a good time as well! Have a wonderful and safe summer with your children!
-The PediaPlex Family